Decades after leading the U.S. Men’s basketball team to Olympic gold – twice – Michael Jordan continues to make Olympic dreams come true.
This week, the basketball legend and his team, the Charlotte Hornets, quietly donated $10,000 to ensure that the hundreds of Paralympic athletes headed to the Paralympic trials in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week would get their chance to compete.
The donation will be made through the Hornets’ charitable foundation. Jordan has been the controlling owner of the NBA team since 2010.
Foundation officials told the Charlotte Observer they learned that Partners for Parks, the group organizing the Paralympic trials in Charlotte, was $25,000 short of its $100,000 goal after reading a June 22 Observer story.
Bernie Washington, executive director of the Charlotte Hornets Foundation, said the team felt it was their duty to help out.
“A sporting event such as the Paralympics is a big deal for the city and for the 400 athletes who are competing,” Washington told the newspaper. “We have to support unique events like this in order to keep them coming to Charlotte … We couldn’t sit back and not help Partners for Parks reach its goal.”
A Partners for Parks spokesperson said the Hornets’ donation was the largest of many last-minute gifts aimed at eliminating the cash shortage just days before the trials are scheduled to begin Thursday.
This week, 400 athletes from across the U.S. will arrive in Charlotte to compete in team trials for the chance to represent the U.S. at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil this September.
The Hornets’ donation will help fund a closing ceremony on Sunday that will bring the athletes, their families and the public together to celebrate as the teams are announced. Approximately one in four athletes competing in Charlotte will qualify to represent the U.S. at the largest Paralympic competition in history later this year.
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This is far from the first time that Jordan and the Hornets have supported charitable causes in their community. Since Jordan became majority owner, he and the team have donated more than $3 million to non-profits addressing education, hunger and supporting military families, according to Essence. Last week, the basketball legend’s team donated $500,000 to fund literacy programs for low-income children.
“One of the biggest impacts and emphasis I wanted to put on the organization was to re-connect back with our community,” Jordan told reporters while announcing the grant last Monday, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. “I felt like it was lost a little bit with previous ownership, and I felt it was very important to re-connect back to the community. Six years later … I am very proud of our commitment.”